trek to Visapur Fort was in the offing
for a long time but could not do so due to some
or the other reason. This time when I got to know
that Tekdi, Pune was organising a Visapur trek
on 26th January, I was 100% sure to do it.
Harshad and I
enrolled for the trek. The plan was to meet the
Tekdi, Pune trekkers at Malavali Rly Station which
is the next station after Lonavala (towards Pune).
We took the 5am Mumbai - Pune Asiad bus and got
down at Malavali Junction on the expressway, thanks
to our driver. It was 7am and the weather was
quite chill. The Pune team comprising of 5 trekkers
arrived just in time we reached the station.
After the initial
introduction, we moved in the direction of the
road bridge which took us across the expressway
into Malavali Village. After about 10 minutes
walk we reached Bhaja Village were we had light
refreshments. We then moved on.
Our first halt
enroute to Visapur was a visit to Bhaje Caves.
After a few minutes walk from the village we reached
a flight of stone steps on our left that took
us upto the Bhaje Caves. Bhaje Caves lie at the
base of Visapur fort.
Caves : One of the earliest
caves in the region, Chaitya facade has collapsed
with a loss of major inscription. Octagonal pillars,
supporting chaityas and vihars, indicate B.C.
antiquity. There is a Horse - shoe shaped chaitya
window. Valult beams of the interior of chaitya
are wooden. Radiocarbon dating of this wood found
to be 250 B.C + or - 150 B.C. years, much earlier
than expected. Figures of Dwarpal guardians, Five
armed figure in the niches on the east side of
Varandah hall. Relief depicting Lord Surya on
his chariot and Lord Indra on elephant - Airavat.
The sculpture indicates influence of the shung
- art. (source : Sahayadri Companion)
about 1/2 hour at the caves, we enquired with
the caretaker on a shorter route to Visapur. He
showed us the route and we moved on accordingly.
After leaving the caves, we started descending
the steps. Enroute we came to a abandoned house.
Taking the route behind the house we reached a
lone Mango tree. From here, we took a left and
started ascending the hill. There were several
misleading paths, however with much care we reached
on top of the hill. The Western face of Visapur
fort was clearly visible now. We had to get to
the eastern entrance of the fort. There is a dense
forest on this side of the fort. To our luck an
old lady (villager who stays at a village closeby)
offered to guide us upto a place from where we
could get onto the fort. We moved to the eastern
part of the fort, traversing the hill and after
a small initial climb reached the rock cut steps
that would lead us to the fort. It took us about
an hour to reach this place from Bhaje Caves.
Here we find
a huge image of Maruti chiselled out of rock.
There is a small cave next to it with a 'T' shaped
kind of entrance. We climbed the steps and reached
the top (eastern side of the fort). A lone cannon
lies here. There are huge water tanks on this
side of the fort. We walked on the periphery of
the fort, past the broken bastions (huge one's)
and reached an open area. There is a solitude
ruined house in the middle of the fort. From here
one could see the vast expanse of the fort. Moving
further we saw a huge grinding wheel. The bastions
of the western face are still in good shape.The
view of Lohagad Fort (which lies adjacent to Visapur),
the valley below, Malavali, Mumbai-Pune Expressway
and the railway line is all so fascinating. If
you look further, one can see a faint view of
Rajmachi. We moveed further on and reached the
western edge of the fort. The view of the Lohagad
Fort, its hill and Vinchu-Kata is simply entralling.
One can also see Tikona fort on the left and the
huge Tung fort on the right with the Pawna river
running between them. The land here is very fertile
and lot of development is taking place here. It
is quite expensive to live in this stretch of
the Pawna region as the view of the river and
its surrounding hills is simply mind-boggling.
We now started
walking on the lines of the eastern bastion. Enroute
we passed by some caves and water tanks. There
is a small sparsely vegetated hillock in the middle
of the fort. On the eastern side too there are
broken bastions, scattered cannons and several
Maruti Temples. From the eastern face, one can
also see the Bhatrishi Hill, Bedse Caves and Tikona
fort. The entire fort is guarded by fortifications
which have crumbled and broken at several places
Its was about
2pm, and we decided to have our lunch after descent.
Our descent is thru the western part of the fort.
We reached a crumbled fortification from where
a gully (actually a stream during monsoon which
is now dried up) descends down thru huge boulders.
It took us about 20mins to descend this part and
thru the thickets finally reached a well trodden
path. The path on the left leads to Bedse Caves
and then onto Bhatrishi hill and towards the right
leads to Gaimukh Khind and onto Lohagad Fort.
We turned right
and moved towards Gaimukh Khind keeping Visapur
fort on our left. After about 20mins walk we took
shelter under a huge tree and had our lunch. After
about an hour of discussion on various topics
ranging from trekking to careers, we decided to
return back to Malavali. We reach Gaimukh Khind
at 3pm. The Lohagad fort is about 30mins from
the Khind, however due to time constraints we
drop the idea of visiting the fort, also bearing
in mind that it would take us an additional 2hrs
to see the fort and that in turn would delay our
return home. So a visit to Lohagad would be kept
for sometime later.
We took a right
at the Khind and start walking on a broad path
which took us back to Malavali in about 2hrs.
We bid adieu
to our pune trekkers and took the 5.45pm local
to Lonavala and the 6.15pm Nagarcoil Express to
Mumbai, finally reaching home at around 10.30pm.
All in all, it
was indeed a good trek........
here to check out the trek